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When you go to gpedit.msc > User configuration > administrative templates > system > custom user interface there's an option for setting a different user interface from explorer.exe .

I want to do that. I want a different look(I didn't have this desire till I saw that option).
I have tried a couple of file managers/browsers e.g Cubic,Explorer++ and Orbitz and I like Cubic explorer the best, but they only help in viewing my files and folders.
Programs don't run on 'top' of them. I set Cubic in gpedit and restarted only to find that the startup programs did not run at startup, only Cubic explorer was running on a black screen like in safe mode with command prompt and networking.
I had to run cmd from cubic explorer in order to run cmd.exe .
Is there a program that can fully serve as a replacement or alternative to explorer.exe?
If not, at least show me how to set Cubic explorer to be the default file manager. Even though there is an option for registering it as a file manager, it doesn't autoplay when I plug in a phone or flash drive.

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closed as off-topic by Canadian Luke, teylyn, Breakthrough, Mokubai, gronostaj Aug 5 '13 at 10:04

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

You are not replacing just the file browser in windows when you change that option, you are replacing the entire shell.

Setting the shell as a alternative file browser will not work (as you discovered) as the shell is responsible for a lot more than just browsing your files.

Wikipedia provides a list of alternative shells for windows, I have never tried any of them so I cannot say if they are good or bad.

|         Shell           |     Type       |         OS         |
| Cairo Shell             | Closed source  | XP, Vista, 7       |
| Calmira                 | Open source    | 3.1                |
| Classic Shell           | Open source    | Vista, 7, 8        |
| Emerge Desktop          | Open source    | 2000, XP, Vista, 7 |
| GreenGnome*             | Open source    | XP                 |
| LDE(X)                  | Open source    | 2000, XP           |
| LiteStep                | Open source    | 95+                |
| BB4Win                  | Open source    | 95+                |
| bbLean                  | Open source    | 95+                |
| SharpEnviro*            | Open source    | XP, Vista, 7       |
| KDE Windows             | Open source    | XP, Vista, 7       |
| BumpTop*                | Proprietary    | XP, Vista, 7       |
| Packard Bell Navigator  | Proprietary    | 3.1, 95            |
| Talisman Desktop        | Proprietary    | 95+                |
| Aston Shell             | Proprietary    | 95+                |
| TabWorks*               | Proprietary    | 3.x                |
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I didn't know there were other shells. I'll try them out. How about making x file manager the default? – Segfault Aug 2 '13 at 7:03
I have tried Cairo, Classic shell and Emerge and honestly, they don't look better than explorer. I feel slower when using them. Thanks anyway. – Segfault Aug 9 '13 at 19:36

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